Emilie Autumn @ Highline Ballroom (10/13/2009)

Logo - Emilie Autumn

Artist: Emilie Autumn
Venue: The Highline Ballroom (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 10/13/2009
Label: The End Records

The last time that we caught Emilie Autumn live it would be at a rented space that was secured for this specific occasion for this exclusive and apparently first ever New York City show. A noble idea in terms of when it was read on paper but in its execution we found numerous flaws in the event based on the logistics of getting the crowd in and getting the event set up and underway in a timely fashion. We had a good time despite the incredibly late hour that it ran to after its very early doors that found the crowd shuffled around to other parts of the room until the time was right. All of the negative factors aside, we looked forward to seeing the performer and her entourage again at a venue that seemed to be more suited for such a thing and that is what made the appearance of Emilie at The Highline Ballroom a superb treat for all of her fans and this music journalist. As expected, the line to get into the venue was stretched all the way up the block and every sort of Gothic-Victorian Lolita and their male counterparts were ready to be entertained once again.

Emilie Autumn: As I walked into the Highline Ballroom I had to say what a terrific space this turned out to be for a show like Emilie’s based on the overall layout. If you have yet to experience a show at the venue, you should be aware that there is a sizable stage and an amazing lighting system and PA. The open floor was already packed and the stage decorated with all of the group’s enhancements (and believe me there are a lot of weird looking things up there which surely keep ones eyes roaming around). There was a lot of different stuff to appreciate this time around that was not presented to the fans at that last show and this meant that the crowd was sure to enjoy it all the more. The main noticeable thing was something that seemed to be a full moon but it was inside of a clock that was so large that one would have assumed it came from the Stargate television series. The girls would use this prop to switch back and forth with other things they needed during the course of the show and from behind it in backlight would make their dramatic entrance.

As the introduction song of “Four O’Clock” began, we found the entrance to the stage of The Bloody Crumpets who are comprised of Lady Aprella, Blessed Contessa, The Naughty Veronica, and The Pyrate Captain, Miss Maggots who all have something unique about them to bring to the table. They lead us into the arrival of the woman of the hour, Emilie Autumn who appears masked and with her presence the madness can begin. The interesting thing about this show is that it is not so much the Rock concert of any type and more like something that would work well in a sizable theatre for a specific run of time. An Emilie Autumn “event” is just that and more along the lines of dark cabaret, Broadway Theatre with a twist of Cirque du Soleil tossed in for good measure. Of course there is also music to enjoy and while this is the case, that which is presented during the show is primarily pre-recorded stuff and played through the house systems. As a live concert supporter I can agree that this guarantees a timely nature of the show that is being done but also will state that it eliminates a lot of the spontaneity that would make something like this a lot more fun. Oh well, this view didn’t seem to affect all of the wayward girls who had made their way into the asylum with Emilie and her friends this evening.

Tonight’s show offered much more in terms of the lighting and how it played its dramatics across the presentation and the girls where in their characters throughout and being as seductive and alluring as possible. The roles for those requirements are largely handled by Aprella and Veronica Varlow, the Danger Dame, who each are stunning ladies that just ooze sexuality. Varlow makes a point during each show by kissing one of the lovely young ladies in the audience and having seen her do this before I can tell you that it is not staged. The recipient of said kiss is always willing to have an interesting story to tell their friends the next day. I guess this is why they refer to her as “Naughty Veronica”. Shame, shame indeed. During the show Emilie engages the audience continually and seems to be directing the entire evening to them with her dialogue. She is quite impressive at this and the crowd responds in kind to all of her inquiries and reacts to her whimsical words time and time again. “Liar” is a big tune in her repertoire and finds everyone joining along in the song and through this all, the Bloody Crumpets are doing something either behind her or with her. Like I said, this was more akin to a Broadway production than just another concert.

At one point Autumn pretends to fall into the abyss near her harpsichord and this confuses the Crumpets who scurry off the stage to find her. The singer reappears and muses how this trick not only gives her some alone time with her “Muffins” (her affectionate nom de guerre for the audience) but also seems to work every time as the girls had not yet figured out her ruse. She plays a little bit on the instrument and I just love how it’s used in her shows context. I’ve always been a fan of the harpsichord and let’s face it, when you go to a lot of Metal shows, there is not much use for one which makes a show like Emilie’s all the more interesting. Upon completion of this little segment we find the return of the scandalously naughty Veronica Varlow who does a feather dance – ladies and gentlemen welcome to the burlesque portion of our show. Without meaning to sound like a cad, I had to admit that this was a fantastic part of the show. It was totally over the top in terms of its sexiness but there was nothing trashy about it and instead was done with style and class. Varlow is a decadent beauty and any of the ladies in the audience who had some interest in her pursuits surely got a great lesson this evening included in the price of their ticket. The other Crumpets return to the stage after this and pray for virtue of Veronica and I am sure the rest of us as well.

Among the other interesting things that took place this evening would be the running into the audience by the Pyrate Maggots who jumped onto an awaiting hoop. This hoop was raised high above the general floor area and the Crumpet twisted and turned and swung over our heads. I told you there was a little bit of circus in this when I started and this was the proof in the event you didn’t believe me. It was fantastic to find this taking place and showed how a venue like Highline Ballroom worked out better for the entertainer than any low ceiling sort of establishment would. Later in the night we would find another Crumpet performing on silks. Those are the long hanging fabric type things we see at some Cirque shows where acrobatics and other gymnastical stuffs are done for the audience pleasure. I believe this was the Blessed Contessa who was doing this part of the gig. Much of the night was a mirror image to the last performance that I caught with the exception of these new theatrical portions above the fans heads and barring the swap of less than a handful of tunes a lot of it would be the same. Some of the dialogue is included in this similarity but that is okay because how often do we find Paul Stanley saying the same lines year after year after tour after tour. Eventually Autumn brings out her violin which I believe is a Viper model and she tears it up on the thing. She is a terrific player and really shows just how amazing this instrument can sound in the heavy music sense. It’s probably the most incendiary part of her show and where she cuts loose all the strings in a manner of speaking. Seeing her deliver some justice on the violin makes me wish she would do more of this during her shows but again this is a very theatrical presentation with lines and acting out etc.

The songs this evening were as mentioned very similar to the grouping we caught last time around with the exception of tunes like “Best Safety Lies In Fear”, “Face The Wall”, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Always Look on the Bright Side Of Life”. We would get her fantastic “Dead Is The New Alive” which I find to be my very favorite of her compositions and a tune that should be playing on radio stations everywhere. Come on programmers, are we waiting on the pending drech from American Idol winner Chris Allen, or do you want to take some chances…..oh wait, never mind, the radio stations NEVER take chances and that’s what keeps them on the road to extinction. They would also perform their rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” which I rather enjoy and think that Freddie Mercury would as well based on their overall glitz of a setting but I did think omitting “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was a mistake since it seems to tie all of their antics on the stage together as a proper closer. Oh well, you cannot have your cake and eat it too they say. Perhaps they are right.

Closing up I had to offer some additional observations and the first one would be that a live band for some or all of the night’s proceedings would be a kick ass idea. There is a lot on interesting things going on and it would be better accompanied by live players. Plus Emilie can dress them all up as zombies or other kinds of living dead record industry types and have that enhance her show a little more. Food for thought Miss. I also ran into people who were at the other show and I compared notes with them and all were in agreement that this evening was better in terms of both organization and stage presentation. That’s never a bad thing. I also had to say how impressed I was at all of the various outfits the fans showed up wearing. There were a number of cool things going on in that regard in terms of hairstyles, dresses, and other additions to one’s attire that made seeing them almost as interesting as the group themselves. One young lady had hair so long it almost reached the floor. She had it tied into the pigtail style and it worked well for the evenings gathered fans. There were lots of hats, makeup and mini-skirts on the ladies while the gent’s sported standard blacks and dress shirts with minor accentuation. Talk about a crowd that was dressed to impress.

Now that Emilie Autumn is signed to The End Records, and joining the ranks of artists like Unexpect and The 69 Eyes, I would love to see a full live DVD film get released. This show is something definitely suited for video and would be a fantastic seller. The End Records has released a deluxe edition of her “Opheliac” CD which comes loaded with extras in terms of music and photography and Emilie is also just releasing her book “The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls”. I’ve not yet seen the book but I am certain that it is something that her fans would greatly enjoy.

“Are you suffering?” Hell yes Miss Autumn. Hell yes. See you when the Asylum rolls through these parts again I hope.

Set List:
1. Intro: 4 O’Clock
2. Opheliac
3. Liar
4. Art Of Suicide
5. Innocence
6. The Crumpets Are Introduced
7. Sharlott
8. Dominant
9. God Help Me
10. Unlaced
11. Dead Is The New Alive
12. I Know Where You Sleep
13. 306
14. Misery
15. Emilie’s Violin Solo
16. Mad Girl
17. Spongebob Squarepants Theme Song
18. Bohemian Rhapsody – encore
19. Thank God I’m Pretty – encore
20. Credits – finish

Official Website: http://www.emilieautumn.com

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